Starting out as an already very polished free game made for AdvXJam in 2020 called Hair of the Dog, and from the developer of the excellent full-fledged point-and-click adventure game Lucy Dreaming, the updated and newly rebranded Heir of the Dog rightfully drew a consistent crowd of impressed onlookers at its demo stall at AdventureX this year in London.
The premise of the full game remains close to that of the Jekyll and Hyde-inspired jam version in 2020: In Victorian London, you play as Cummerbund Bandersnatch, who, after drinking his uncle’s secret formula, finds himself turned into a monstrous beast. In the demo, you have to find a number of ingredients to try to reverse the curse; in the full game, it’ll become clear that it won’t be quite as easy as that, and as designer Tom Hardwidge of Tall Story Games told me in my chat with him at AdventureX, there’ll be an engaging story involving “missing people and secret societies” to explore, and “new transformations and abilities” to unlock as well.
One of the cleverest parts of the demo is the fact that by using your uncle’s pocket watch you can move time forward, meaning you can swap between nighttime, when Cummerbund becomes the beast, and the daytime when he becomes a man again. This not only means being able to swap between abilities – such as improved smell and having greater strength as the beast, then talking and altogether being more approachable in human form – but also affecting different parts of the scenes around you. A store at night sells mysterious free samples of clear liquid, for example, but during the day sells sweets. You’ll need to visit the same location at different times to get the objects you need to progress.
Another great new addition to Heir of the Dog is the checklist system, which is brought to you by an upbeat insect called Hugo, who’s nestled amongst your person. As well as reminding you of all the tasks and objectives you’ve got going on, Hugo is just another fun, cheery character to interact with in the game’s witty world, complimenting you every time you take a peek at what you still need to do. “I wanted this [system] to be a bit more rewarding,” Tom explains, “so the checklist will feature a talking louse with a big moustache and … [a lot of] Cockney charm!” It certainly made me want to check out my objectives much more than usual!
Heir of the Dog is still some way from being completed; Tom says he’s currently working on controller support as the game will feature two different play modes, a traditional point-and-click way of playing and a more console-supported mode where you guide the character directly. The earliest we can probably expect it is in 2025, then, but in the meantime, enjoy the full video interview I did with Tom at AdventureX below!
To watch more of Cressup’s video interviews, playthroughs and more streamed live, be sure to follow her Twitch channel.